Chapter 11: Technology and Interpersonal Communication. Chapter Summary.
We live in a time of unprecedented technological change. One new technology ...
Chapter 11: Technology and Interpersonal Communication Chapter Summary We live in a time of unprecedented technological change. One new technology quickly replaces another and we talk about it, work with it, and engage it in ways never before seen in society. This technological evolution has also affected our interpersonal communication. The use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) is now commonplace among people of various races, ages, and cultures. With the advent of Web 2.0, in particular, CMC will be forever changed. Technology plays an integral role in our communication with others. Because technology is pervasive, we rely on it. It is paradoxical that such a large, cumbersome entity as technology can draw people together--a concept encompassed by the idea of the global village. Another important characteristic of technology is that it is powerful; it influences people, events, and entire cultures. Lastly, the accessibility of technology varies depending on people's age, race, culture, and geographical setting--a phenomenon called the digital divide. The Internet, a giant network of computers, has both a bright side and a dark side. Users should be wary of online sources until they are sure of those websites' accountability. Other websites might be filled with hate speech, or users might encounter flamers in a chat room. The anonymity of the web makes some users less civil than they would be in face-to-face interactions. The bright side of the Internet includes the opportunity to widen your social network; in fact, entire communities are developed and maintained online. You can also educate yourself by searching online via search engines for informational websites and chat rooms with professionals who give advice. Keep in mind that people can lie or pretend to be someone else online. On the plus side, online discussions can prompt introspection and individualism. And by self-disclosing online, people can increase intimacy and avoid immediate reactions of disgust, disappointment, or confusion. However, be careful when you self-disclose online; if you send an electronic message and then decide you should not have disclosed something contained in the message (which could inadvertently be passed to someone else), you cannot retrieve it. Identity markers are expressions of the self online. Screen names and personal home pages show individuality and give people insight into their originators. However, sometimes strange names or disorganized home pages give an unintended impression. People are now able to initiate, maintain, and terminate conversations and relationships through technological means. People use abbreviated language and graphic accents to efficiently communicate, although these are open to misinterpretation. People can communicate using blogs (online journals), but they should use discretion when blogging about private matters. Further, social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have created a new generation of computer users who, despite warnings and concerns from professionals, continue to put personal information out to the public. Whereas traditional
dating is random, involving good timing and luck, online dating is an inexpensive process that is not as arbitrary because many people are using the same venues for the same purpose. In addition, the user has control over the information divulged, can find out how the other thinks and writes, what the potential date looks like, and his or her likes and dislikes before deciding whether to meet face to face. Some people engage in hyperdating, or developing an online relationship quickly. Others find lifelong friends, not romantic partners, in online venues. Still other online relationships don't develop into interpersonal relationships. To ably communicate online, senders and receivers need certain skills. Senders should be succinct, write clearly to avoid misinterpretation, stay polite, and reflect on their messages before sending them. Receivers should check about the sender's intent, show empathy when possible, and read between the lines. Both senders and receivers should take responsibility for their words, build their dialogue, and recall the challenge that online communication poses. Communication technology continues to redefine how people meet and relate to one another. As technology evolves, it expands our relational horizons in unimagined directions. Despite the advances made in communication technology, as technology changes, new challenges await those who utilize it.